Markham divided over city council’s redevelopment plan

Editor’s Note:Markham city council’s real estate redevelopment proposal has sparked controversy among the residents. MCCRG -- an organization representing Markham citizens has voiced serious concerns over the plan, from environmental damages to traffic disruptions. 
被万锦市Warden Ave、Major Mackenzie、Kennedy和16th Ave环绕的York Downs Golf and Country Club目前正面临再开发,按照计划当地将兴建2,400套高密度新屋以供7,400名新居民居住。两年前,一家开发商以$4.12亿元的价格将这个占地417英亩的高尔夫俱乐部纳入囊中。

York Downs Golf and Country Club, surrounded by Warden Ave, Major Mackenzie, Kennedy and 16th Ave in Markham, is being proposed for redevelopment with a high density of 2,400 new homes for 7,400 new residents. The Club with 417 acre property was sold to a developer two years ago for $412 million.


Markham Citizens Coalition for Responsive Government (MCCRG) takes the City Council to task on their hasty planning process to change the land usage for the property and advances a public meeting for this development application on April 5, 2017 in the Markham council chambers. 


Over 500 people flooded City Hall on meeting night. There were two noticeable camps; those who were opposed to the development and those who seemed to be organized to support the development. 39 deputations were received as well as many written submissions. There were those who wanted the development to go ahead without delay and others who offered varying degrees of opposition and concerns regarding the approval process, the destruction to the trees on the property, the increased traffic in the area, the inadequate capturing of stormwaters, and  damage to wildlife. Discussions at that meeting is summarized below:


Process - According to the staff report on the application, it is still going through both internal (City) and external (e.g. Provincial agencies ) reviews. Yet, despite the City's published process, which indicates that such reviews should be completed prior to a public meeting, the city is pressing ahead. Why? Critical information and expert opinion is not yet widely and publicly available. Furthermore, are there not better alternative uses for this property that should be considered, for example lower density, more parkland, more walking and bike trails etc.? 


Trees - The arborist report states that 1,622 trees greater than 40 cm in diameter and 2,318 trees 20-39 cm in diameter will be removed. What about the major loss of environmental capital, such as the loss of cooling, loss of storm water absorption, loss of carbon sequestration, loss of wildlife habitat, etc.? 

交通—— 仅是交通高峰时段增加1,343辆汽车造成的额外交通量就会令当地公路不堪重负。目前16th Ave.的交通容量已经饱和,并且约克区政府已经延迟了当地16th Ave.路段的拓宽计划。约克区现在正在寻求通过额外收入(可能是税收)支付这些道路改造费用。预期该开发计划将会导致周边主干道和交叉路口的车流量增加数千辆,而这只会令现存的交通拥堵问题雪上加霜。

Traffic - The extra traffic of 1,343 additional cars during the am peak hours alone cannot be accommodated. 16th Ave. is already at capacity, and York Region has now delayed the planned widening of 16th Ave. at this location. The region is asking for additional revenues (possibly taxes) to pay for these road improvements. The anticipated thousands of extra cars from this development, using the surrounding arterial roads and intersections, can only add to existing gridlock. 

交通是此次辩论的焦点之一。即便开发商的交通报告声称16th Ave.的交通容量已经饱和,但居民仍不希望该开发计划导致当地的道路数量进一步增加,从而令原本就拥挤不堪的交通变得更加拥堵。此外,他们也不想看到高高耸立的公寓大厦在16th Ave.拔地而起。接下来纳税人协会和当地居民间可能会爆发潜在冲突,而不是达成统一战线。既然市府可以轻而易举地超越其人口密度目标,那我们为何还要在该地区维持这样的密度?

Traffic is one of the main concerns in this debate. Residents do not want more roads coming out of the development to add to existing traffic congestion. Even the developer's traffic report say 16th Avenue is at capacity. They also do not want to be overlooked by a condo on 16th Avenue. We have potential conflicts among the Ratepayers Associations and residents going forward, as opposed to a united front. The City is easily going to overshoot its density targets for population anyway, so why do we need this density on this property?  


Stormwater - The proposal appears to include storm sewers within the property designed to capture and convey stormwater runoff only up to a five year storm event. More major storm events, up to and above the 100 year event, will be left to flow down streets to creeks and stormwater ponds. There is a serious problem with groundwater in the area due to a very high water table. Even the stormwater ponds are below the water table. Will basements of homes be below the water table too? 


Wildlife - It also appears that two threatened species of ground nesting birds and their habitat would be wiped out by the current proposal. Inadequate information exists at this time to determine if this is the case and how such a threat could be mitigated, as surveys for the developer did not find these birds, yet the Ministry of Natural Resources indicates they are there during breeding season. 


For those who supported the rapid approval of the development, many seemed to belong to a Church a distance away and wanted to build a new church in the development. Others supported the development because they wanted condos, townhouses etc that they felt were "affordable" and within walking distance to shops and buses. They could even have come from a builders registration list, but there are no specific evidence to support that. 


If the public is to have the opportunity to meaningfully participate in this process they must be given complete and accurate information, with associated staff and consultants' opinions, as well as answers to the very real problems that exist with this proposal.

在接下来的几个星期里,由市议员杨绮清领导的市议会于人村小组委员会至少会主导召开四次小组委员会会议,以讨论交通和房屋密度等具体问题。届时居民协会和Angus Glen纳税人协会也会参与其中。这些会议均对公众开放,其中首次会议将于4月24日晚6点在万锦市政厅举行,随后会议的日期尚待公布。

Over the next few weeks, there will be a minimum of four sub committee meetings on specific aspects, eg traffic, density etc to follow under the guidance of Council's Unionville Sub Committee, chaired by Councillor Collucci.Unionville Residents Association, and Angus Glen Ratepayers Association will also be involved. These meetings are open to the public and the first one will take place at Markham Civic Centre on April 24 at 6 pm. The dates of subsequent meetings are still to be announced.

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